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'Be Kind, but Don't Hide your Light'


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Town of West Seneca Chief of Staff Amelia Greenan recently had the opportunity to address students at her alma mater, Mount Mercy Academy. Greenan, a 2014 MMA grad, spoke to Steve McCrea’s Academy of Women in Social Sciences class on Dec. 8 about the importance of women getting involved in politics.


Q: How did this come about?

A: The students in this academy are required to complete certain courses and participate in various learning opportunities that also connect them to people and experiences within their interested fields. One of these opportunities includes monthly guest speakers. I felt honored when Steve McCrea, a former teacher of mine, reached out and asked me to speak to his class about my journey thus far in government and politics. 


Q: Have you spoken to classes previously about political engagement? 

A: This was my first time speaking to classes specifically about political engagement and being a woman in government. But I was particularly excited to return to MMA and speak to the students because I know firsthand how important and valuable the curriculum, teachers and guest presentations are that Mount Mercy makes available to their students because of how influential they were in my life’s direction. I ultimately decided to attend Canisius College and major in Political Science after listening to then-Assemblyman Mickey Kearns speak to our class my senior year at MMA. I hope the students are as inspired by their teachers and guest speakers as I was.


 Q: How cool was it to be back at your old high school?

 A: I had a lot of happy memories at Mount Mercy Academy, and it was really nice to be back in the classroom. I was impressed by how engaged, kind and thoughtful the students were during the question-and-answer portion of the presentation. When I was a student at Mount Mercy, there was a focus on teaching the students to be strong leaders and we were encouraged and taught about the importance of service in the community. I told the students how important it is to support other women and lift each other up. These connections might not seem very significant, but being back at my old school made me reflect on some of my earliest memories of witnessing and experiencing women supporting women. I told the girls not to take one another or their teachers and these opportunities for granted. Eventually, you look back and you realize they we’re all part of your story, and that you still have a long way to go.


 Q: How did you get started?

 A: In addition to our teachers and extracurricular activities, I am grateful that Mount Mercy had guest speakers like Mickey Kearns – I remember learning about the different initiatives he was involved in and how he was able to serve and advocate for his constituents and I thought to myself, “I want to do that kind of work one day. That is my dream.” While at Canisius, I was also involved with student government. I also began working for Mr. Kearns and continued working for him for about six years until I began my position for the Town of West Seneca this past January. I particularly enjoyed gaining experience with nonprofits through various partnerships and community initiatives. During this time, I also began to get involved on a town level in West Seneca as secretary to the ethics board, and as a member of the zoning board of appeals. Now, being chief of staff to the supervisor in the Town of West Seneca feels very much a part of God’s plan for me. I am excited for what is next to come. 


Q: What did you tell the class about getting started? 

A: I told them what a privilege it is to be an educated woman and the importance of recognizing your privilege and being grateful for everything that has gotten them to this place and where they are now, because it will lead them to the next. My advice to them came from something my grandfather, Gerald Greenan, taught me. He told us: “As long as you learn how to read, write, think and speak, you can do anything.” There is nothing I have found to be more true. I wanted to leave the girls with some advice too from a person who is also very much still learning. I told them to make connections, get involved and get experience leading projects and initiatives. Be brave. Do things that scare you. Stand up for what is right but do so with love and compassion. Always be kind. I told them it does not matter what position they end up in, it is important to offer kindness and respect to everyone they interact with. That being said, I told them the importance of setting boundaries and learning to say no, staying organized and the value of strong communication skills. As a woman, don’t doubt yourself. Humbly learn, observe and absorb, but do not doubt your intelligence or hide your light. 


Q: How important is it to encourage young women to be active in politics? 

A: It is important for women to get involved in public service. Politics is one way in which they can serve, have a positive impact on the lives of many, and make our society better. Government and politics impacts everyone. Women for many years have been overlooked and underestimated. Women need more woman role models, particularly in government and politics, and we as women need to lift each other up. When I spoke to the students, I told them to never knock another woman down. Women have been historically prevented from controlling their own environments. Not too long ago, women did not have as many of the rights as they have today. So in today’s world, it is important more than ever for women to take control of their environments and that includes having a seat at the table in politics and government. 


Q: What do you think is the most important thing you told the class? 

A: I am not sure if they will end up going into politics or government, or other fields of study related to social sciences or maybe they go a completely different route. So, it was most important to me to tell them that no matter what they do, always remember to be kind.


What they thought


“Amelia has always been passionate about politics and expressing her viewpoints. She was extremely active in student government at Mount Mercy, serving as class president for two years and she was the student government president her senior year. She was very committed and determined as a leader and I think seeing what she has accomplished in the short time since she graduated makes her an excellent role model for our students.” – Pat Burns, MMA English teacher 


“I thought that Amelia Greenan was very well-spoken and presented herself well. She had a good message and she proved to me that if you are determined and set your mind to something, you can accomplish your goals. It was impressive to see how far a recent alumna has gotten in a male-dominated field.” – Joelle Poleto, MMA junior


"Mount Mercy has positively changed my life forever. Through the inviting community, I was able to grow as a woman, as a daughter, as a friend, and as a member of society. Throughout my time here I have gained an education in both academic areas and life in general through the school's ongoing efforts to educate students on gender inequality, racial injustice, and environmental crisis'. Furthermore, Mercy has given me the space to gain confidence that 4 years ago I never would have guessed I would have. Mount Mercy has helped me take that initial step toward becoming the strong woman of color I am today. At Mercy you are more than just a student, you are whoever you wish to be."

Melina Courtney

Class of 2022

"My future, success, and the ability to be an empowered woman in society come from Mount Mercy. My school is a strong foundation for my role in life. From attending Mount Mercy, I can say with confidence, that I will graduate with the mindset that I can accomplish anything. Mercy is my home and my sanctuary to be whoever I want. Mount Mercy has been bringing forth generations of strong intellectual women into the world, and I am more than honored to be one of them. Mercy teaches girls more than academics, but also about the world around us. As a mercy community, we give back to the world because it is our home. From my four years at Mercy, I have been educated on pushing for equality and peace and the understanding that there is no limit to what I can do. I have the confidence to go out in the world and make a difference because being a Mercy girl has given me that opportunity. "

Cassidy Reid

Class of 2022

"Mercy is more than just a school. Mercy is my second home and a shoulder to lean on. Mount Mercy has given me the confidence and resources to pursue my passions and make the world a more inclusive place, propelling me to take strides into male-dominated fields. Mercy blessed me with an environment to grow intellectually and in the community, giving me the foundation to make a tangible impact while making lifelong friendships."

Adrianna Awald

Class of 2022

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